October 14th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Ayers will come up at debate, McCain says

 McCain plans to criticize Obama's ties to Ayers at Wednesday night's debate.
McCain plans to criticize Obama's ties to Ayers at Wednesday night's debate.

(CNN) – John McCain and Sarah Palin appear to have dropped the subject of Barack Obama's connection to 1960's radical Bill Ayers from the campaign trail, but the Arizona senator said in an interview that aired Tuesday he'll likely bring it up at the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night.

The comments, during an interview with St. Louis radio station KMOX, come after Obama and Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden were sharply critical of McCain for targeting the Illinois senator over Ayers at campaign rallies, but not when the two last met for a presidential debate.

"I was astonished to hear him say that he was surprised I 'didn’t have the guts' to do that, because the fact is the question didn't come up in that fashion," McCain said of the last debate. "I think he's probably ensured it will come up this time."

McCain and Palin stepped up their criticism of Obama's past relationship with Ayers last week, as the GOP ticket's poll numbers continued to slide in the homestretch to Election Day. The campaign also released a string of ads that questioned Obama's truthfulness on the matter, in an effort to raise doubts about the Illinois senator's political origins and character. But the subject of Ayers was noticeably absent from both McCain and Palin's stump speeches Sunday and Monday, leading many political observers to conclude the campaign had deemed that line of attack ineffective.

Watch: Palin Renews Obama Attack

In the radio interview, McCain made clear he still thinks it's an issue.

"It’s not that I give a damn about some old washed up terrorist and his terrorist wife, who in 2001 said they wish they'd bombed more - what I care about, and what the American people care about, is whether he's being truthful," McCain told the St. Louis radio station.

soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. Lyndon

    Prepare for the whupping of a lifetime when Obama beats the economic snot out of McCain this Wednesday.

    October 14, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Ryan

    I hope he does – Obama will shove it back in his face!

    October 14, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. McCain is a Baby

    PLEASE BRING IT UP! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! I can't wait to talk about Keating 5 in front of 70Million people, or G. Gordon Liddy or your anti-Semitic relationships. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring it up!

    October 14, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    In that case, I think Keating and G. Gordon Liddy might be brought up also. I'm sure I'm not the only one that has read extensively about those two – de-regulations for Keating and subverting the Constitution and then Watergate for Liddy.

    Could get very interesting, to say the least.

    October 14, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Shame Shame I Know your name GOP

    So will the Keating 5 issue and trooper gate come up also? McCain/Palin and the whole GOP are like bad parents with their rules of do as I say not as I do. I hope Obama has a slam dunk on dumb and dumber tomorrow night.

    October 14, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. onelove

    Good McCain please bring this up because I am confident Sen. Obama will make you look silly.

    October 14, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Patrick

    I can't wait till he does bring it up, then Obama can point out just how stupid the whole Ayers deal is. Obama was 8 YEARS OLD. They served on a board FUNDED BY REPUBLICANS CONNECTED TO JOHN MCCAIN.

    I would LOVE to have McCain bring up Ayers. Bring it on.

    October 14, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Independent: NOW FOR BARACK AND JOE

    people do not care old man. your negatives will continue to go up.

    October 14, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Justin, ny

    good to know mccain will be focused on the real issues during the worst economic times of our generation.

    obama/biden 2008

    October 14, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. KJL

    I have a few questions for McCain about his connections, too. Anyone who has worked around a vast variety of people has had to deal with a few with less-than-pleasant backgrounds. It's HOW you dealt with them that counts.

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  11. Coda

    And out comes the angry old man. Going negative not on the important subject matter will only help Obama.

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. get some sense

    I don't believe that President Obama will raise my taxes.
    But you know what IF he did... I don't think I would have that big of a problem with it
    Gas prices more than doubled in the last administration and no one raised my taxes.
    I would rather pay an addition $1000 per year in TAXES for responsible spending initiatives than
    have an irresponsible, hateful and deceitful man that can't make a decision unless someone else does it first
    in the white house when the second in line for that position is a Twit of the highest order.

    Say NO to Rocky and Bowinkle.

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. we need change

    We already know about Ayers. this is not news and I think MCcain is just grasping at straws to sway the vote. How stupid does he and his campain think we are.

    I hope Obama brings up his wreckless past. I have heard some where he had wrecked planes when he was learning how to fly. I hope Obama campain looks into that because he was wreckless back then as well as wreckless with the campain. I dont want him as president.

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Lucy Windy Chicago, IL

    Keating 5 – if your talking judgement. I hope tomorrow nice he comes across the the angry, bitter, old man that he is.

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. Bill Columbus OH

    Is it just me or does McCain think that if you say something enough times it becomes true. This has been dismissed how many times? And isn't the person who appointed the board a McCain backer?
    Out of ideas and out if time. Would have voted McCain in 2000 but not this empty shell he is now. And Palin was the final nail in the coffin anyway.

    Try talking some about stuff that matters, such as, IDK, the economy? I heard that you are releasing a plan today and I would like to read it to see how many of Obama's ideas you have tagged as yours.

    Independent for Obama

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. People make no sense

    So McCain plants a question so he can appear human and decent. These stupid Democrats rush to give an example of him being human and decent. It McCain thought Obama was a decent man and wanted to defend him, then why didn't he do that when they were yelling terrorist, kill him, unpatriot and all the other stuff. Once the buzz started, then all of a suddent McCain wants to defend Obama. People are soooo stupid!

    Nothing is working for McCain so he is using his experience to do what? Talk about Ayers. Thanks for all your experience and leadership McCain.

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. Lawrence

    Don't forget "The Keating Five", Phil Grahm, YOUR minister that made desparaging remarks, boozing and womanizing (your words), leaving your ill wife that waited for you while you were a POW, and, ALL of the similar talking points about your unqualified runningmate! JOHN !

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  18. Marilynn, (Wilmington, NC)

    Please McCain, move on. Get over it. Look for a new line of attack... Like issues. Beat Obama on issues. (if you can).. I don't think so. That is why in November, you will concede this election to Obama. There was a time when I would have put a check mark beside your name, (probably the only Republic I would vote for) but I don't recognize you anymore. Who are you?

    Obama/Biden suporter!

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Preco, NY

    Whatever will distract from the main issue of this important time in America's history is okay with Mccain.

    Who is Ayers, and why is Mccain and his slime campaign not telling the true story? who is afraid of Mccain bringing to tommorow's debate any slime his mind and those of his co-tavellers in distortion, hate and looking – you -straight -in- the- eyes and lying campaign staffers and surrogates will bring?

    Is that his game changer? these and his chicken hearted attempts at putting the Economy where it belongs(Right at the front and center of any right thinking campaign)

    McCain you are a loser!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. patricia (white grandma with mixed Black/white, Asian/white grandchildren)

    Bring it on, McCain! Let's get it over with once and for all. But remember, your past will also be exposed. You just don't know how to let sleeping dogs lie. Hopefully Obama will bring up your vp being found to have committed unethical violations...just like Cheney.

    October 14, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. mama4obama

    The Ayers thing is so old, has been debunked several times.....time to move on buddy. Your smears didnt work.

    October 14, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. Final Straw

    That will be the final straw. At some point in his campaign I expected McCain to show a glimmer of decency, but he has failed to do so in his entire campaign. Should he resort to such pitiful, out of date, and non substantial subjects, I will have to toss it in as the final straw.

    It will be a dispicable act of a man completely empty on morals, principals, ideas and leadership. You will certainly lose my vote if it something so moronic slips through your wrinkled and corrupt lips.

    If you do take such a low road John, I would like to be the first to spit on your slimey and dispicable face. You will represent the biggest cancer of Washington.

    October 14, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. JD in Moraga, CA

    Truthful...truthful...you mean like Troopergate? Like Cindy's drug problems? Like Keating 5? Like being for deregulation before you were against it?

    At least have the guts to call Obama a terrorist to his face...then defend why all of your Republican friends also on the Annenburg board with Ayers are supposedly *not* terrorists.

    October 14, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Spencer/Commonwealth of Virginia

    Bring it on old man. How about we bring up Keating 5 since that actually has relevance to today's economic crisis.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 14, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. chuck

    and PS, this cost the American taxpayers millions, and McCain was one of the crooks. Think 11 homes.

    October 14, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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